Analysis Of Nickel And Dimed By Barbara Ehrenreich Essay

Analysis Of Nickel And Dimed By Barbara Ehrenreich Essay

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We live in a work-obsessed society where our main objective is to support our families, and ourselves, but this objective has become increasingly hard for working class families. According to PBS, 3.3 million Americans worked at or below the federal minimum wage in 2013, and hourly paid employees over the age of sixteen, made up about 60% of our workforce. In order to further understand low-wage work, as well as the influence of networks and motivation, this paper will examine Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, “Ain’t No Getting By” by Jay MacLeod, and “Networks, Race, and Hiring” by Roberto Fernandez and Isabel Fernandez-Mateo. Nickel and Dimed is the story of Barbara Ehrenreich’s workplace study, in which she goes undercover as a low-wage worker to see how low-wage women get by. “Ain’t No Getting By,” explains MacLeod’s study about the aspiration and attainment level of two groups of boys in a low-income neighborhood, and “Networks, Race, and Hiring” is a study that investigates the role of networks in hiring, especially among racial minorities. These readings will be examined as a guide to further understand the role of networks, motivation, and life chances in relation to the current state of inequality and the overwhelming amount of low-wage workers in our society.
Before beginning her workplace study, Ehrenreich identified the issues of low-wage work and poverty, and felt someone needed to further investigate how the working poor gets by. In order to be able to fully immerse herself in low-wage work, Barbara set rules for herself when beginning her workplace study. Barbara began this study in 1998, when almost 30% of workers made under $8.00/hour, and on average a worker needed to make at least $8.89 per hour in order ...

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...enreich encounters many issues of low-wage workers during her study including the difficulty of finding work, job security, transportation, lack of affordable and safe housing, as well as lack of affordable and quality healthcare. However, one advantage she had over her co-workers is that when things got hard or if she got frustrated she was able to quit and move on to another area for her study or quit her study altogether. Additionally, she could bend the rules that she set for herself or use emergency money that she had set aside for various reasons, such as housing and health concerns. For her co-workers, however, the life of low wage work is their every day life. Most low-wage workers do not have the freedom to walk out on the job or have emergency funds from their past jobs, especially because most of them are living paycheck to paycheck just to barely get by.

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